String Project Faculty, after Fall Concert 2013

Behind every great teacher, there’s another great teacher

2017 – 2018 String Project Faculty

Dr. Laurie Scott

String Project Director

Dr. Scott with studentLaurie Scott is Associate Professor of Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, she serves as the director of The University of Texas String Project and the Musical Lives string program at UT Elementary School. As a university professor she has received both the Teaching Excellence Award from the School of Music and from the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. A former middle and high school orchestra director, she now mentors young professionals toward successful lives as string educators.  She is co-author with William Dick of the textbooks, Mastery for Strings, Level One and Two, and Learning Together: Sequential Repertoire for Solo Strings or String Ensembles, co-authored with William Dick and Winfred Crock. Her publication, From the Stage to the Studio: How Fine Performers become Great Teachers, is co-authored with Cornelia Watkins. In every facet of her teaching Dr. Scott serves as an advocate for inclusive and diverse music classrooms, adult music learners, and access to quality music instruction for children in underserved communities. She is a registered teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas and continues to maintain a private violin studio. Her former students have become exemplary string educators, professional studio and symphony musicians, and passionate arts advocates.

Courtney Castaneda, cello

Assistant Director 

14918850_1243784725667148_4752685939337971172_oCourtney Castañeda is the Orchestra Director at the University of Texas Elementary School (Little Longhorn Orchestra), and also works for the UT Austin String Project and the Center for Music Learning. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both cello performance and psychology from the University of California, Davis and a Master of Music degree in cello performance from Sacramento State University where she was a teacher in the Sacramento State String Project.  Most recently, she completed her Master of Music degree in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas, Austin, and also earned her k-12 teaching certification. A native Texan, Courtney began playing violin and cello thanks to her public elementary school in Houston, and is a strong supporter of public school music education. She taught privately for seven years in northern California, coached chamber music for the Sacramento Youth Symphony’s Summer Chamber Music Workshop, and played in music festivals in Paris and Eisenstadt. Before moving to Austin, Courtney was the Operations Manager for the Sacramento School of Music, and served as the Business Administrator for the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas for two years. She has received Suzuki Cello Teacher Training from Carey Cheney (Book 1) and Tanya Carey (Books 2-6), and Suzuki in the Schools training from Dr. Laurie Scott.  Courtney is also a cellist in the Austin based orchestral folk band, American Dreamer.

Rylie Harrod, cello

Rylie HarrodOffice Manager

Rylie Harrod began her musical studies in New England (South Berwick, Maine) studying violin at the age of 3, and starting cello at the age of 5, learning both instruments through the Suzuki method. At age 7, she ultimately decided to choose the cello because she truly loved it and she would always get to sit down! Rylie participated in youth programs at the New England Conservatory Preparatory Program, the Boston Youth Symphony, and the Walnut Hill School. She later continued onwards to earn her Bachelor of Music degree from the Royal Academy of Music, London, UK, and her Master of Music degree from Arizona State University where she was Thomas Landschoot’s teaching assistant. Rylie is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the University of Texas, Austin, studying with Joshua Gindele of the Miro Quartet. She is currently the Principal Cellist of the Waco Symphony Orchestra, she is an active freelancer in the Austin area, and she is also a substitute player for the San Antonio Symphony. Rylie loves good food, practicing yoga, and going on adventures with her violinist fiance and their very silly dog, Moe-Bear.

Anthony Mariano, guitar

Guitar Coordinator20161029-Teachers2Chris-11

Growing up in New Mexico, Anthony Mariano has been recognized as a premiere guitarist in the Albuquerque area, receiving the position of Concertmaster for the second annual New Mexico All-State Guitar Ensemble in 2011. Anthony finished his Bachelor’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2105 under the instruction of David Tanenbaum, where he had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s finest guitarists. He was chosen by the faculty in 2013 to perform in the school’s annual Guitarrada, an event featuring music played on some of the world’s finest historical guitars. Currently, Anthony is a member of graduate program at the University of Texas Butler School of Music under the instruction of Adam Holzman.

Anthony strongly believes that music is an invaluable part of life, and he takes great pleasure in teaching that art to people of all ages. His primary goal as a classical guitar teacher is to provide his students with the ability to connect and interact with what they feel, and to provide them with the opportunity to share that experience with others. As both a private instructor and an ensemble conductor, Anthony tries to instill in his students an appreciation for both music, and the process of working hard, focusing, and interacting well with others in a group.

Antonio Cevallos, violin

Camille Schiess, violin


As a classical violinist from Santa Barbara, Camille Schiess has given a wide variety of performances in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. Her experience as a violinist is not limited to just a performance career, but also centers itself on teaching children and inspiring their creativity in music.

Camille is a three time winner of the Granada Music and Arts Soloist Competition, soloing with members of the Santa Barbara Symphony. Other solo performances include playing with the Santa Barbara City College Orchestra where she was awarded Musician of the year in 2011. Aside from soloing, Camille is an active performer in the Santa Ynez Choral Society Orchestra conducted by Chris Bowman. Aside from performing, Camille tries to be involved in the music community. Currently, she is a volunteer with the UT String Project where she teaches beginning Musicianship. She is also a teacher for an after school program at St. Andrews Episcopal School. During her residence in California, she was heavily involved in the local Music and Arts Program in Santa Barbara where she coached students from the chamber orchestra and worked closely with their teacher Nina Bodnar, former concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony. Recently, she was fortunate to have received a grant from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to provide an educational chamber tour in Santa Barbara during the spring of 2015. This educational outreach provided students an introduction to the world of music as listeners and advocates.

As a teacher, Camille Schiess focuses on technical and musical foundations to provide students with the best techniques in order to grow into well rounded musicians. Although Camille is trained with a traditional background, she does incorporate aspects of the Suzuki method into her teaching. The method gives beginning students a solid technical foundation that enables them to play with great ease and focus as they advance. Every student has a different way of learning therefore it is important to try and give them the discipline and honesty of mind required for the practice room and in performance. It is key that a student learns the ability to observe and grow a physical awareness in their technique to facilitate their movements and articulate the expression in their own musical playing. What is most important to her, however, is that she provides a supportive environment for the students to have fun and take pride in any and all the things that they accomplish.

Camille finished her undergraduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Axel Strauss and Wei He. She is currently a first year master’s student at the UT Butler School of Music and studies with Brian Lewis.

Clara Li, violin

20161029-Teachers-39Clara Li is pursuing her Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in viola performance at the University of Texas at Austin under the tutelage of Professor Roger Myers. She received her Master of Music Viola Performance degree from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati and her Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, as a Viola major and Piano minor. Her major teachers include Masao Kawasaki, Catharine Carroll Lees, Joseph Ho Pang Kam and Ricardo Zwietisch. She has received coachings from Timothy Lees, Denisse Rodriguez, Rebecca Barnes and has also played in masterclasses with Robert Vernon, Yu Sun, Keitaro Harada and Danielle Farina.

Clara began teaching piano and being an accompanist when she was in middle school. After entering college, she has also started teaching violin classes an
d private lessons. She has attended Aspen Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival and Summa Cum Laude Music Festival and toured with the Hong Kong Youth Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Youth Strings to perform at Shanghai Expo, Vienna and Prague.


Cory Blais, cello











20161029-Teachers2Chris-60Daniel Kopp, cello

Cadet Coordinator







Elizabeth Sullivan, bass

Elizabeth Sullivan is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Music & Human Learning from UT’s Butler School of Music. She received her BFA from Berklee College of Music in 2014, majoring in Music Education. Upon graduation, she moved from her native Boston to Austin to pursue a career in elementary music education as well as perform with a variety of musical groups including her band, Mamahawk. Her primary instrument is the String Bass, having 13+ years of performance experience.
In addition to bass performance, Liz is also proficient on a variety of brass, woodwind, string, and percussion instruments.


 Fred Springer, guitar

Growing up in Tallahassee, Florida, Fred Springer studied with many Graduate Teaching Assistants to Bruce Holzman at Florida State University. Moving on to Leon High School, while still continuing private lessons, Fred enrolled in Ed Prasse’s guitar class, studying all styles of guitar during his four years of high school. Fred joined and eventually led the elite ensemble “Frets” at Leon and performed all around Tallahassee, in Tampa, and in the Florida Music Educator’s association’s All State Guitar Ensemble in 2014. He has attended international guitar festivals and won prizes in competitions including Second Prize in the 2017 Lonestar Guitar competition, Fourth Prize in the 2016 Classical Minds Competition, and Runner-Up in the 2013 Big Bend Community Orchestra Young Artists’ Concerto Competition. Fred now studies with Adam Holzman at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is in his final year of pursuing a Bachelor’s of Music in Classical Guitar Performance.

 Hailey Walterman, viola



Jackson Hocott, bass



Jacob Schnitzer, conductor

Jacob SSJ1C1074chnitzer is a conductor, composer, educator, and horn player from North Texas. An avid creator of unique collaborations, Jacob co-founded the Lab Orchestra and Con Moto Brass
Ensemble. He can be seen conducting with the Lab Orchestra, the Engineering Chamber Orchestra, the UT String Project, Con Moto Brass Ensemble, and student organized ensembles around Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin.

Jacob teaches orchestra and music theory at the University of Texas String Project, the university’s Suzuki teacher training program.  He also maintains a private horn studio. Jacob completed the University of Texas Teacher Certification program and expects to receive his Texas K-12 teaching certificate in the Summer of 2016.

He currently studies with Patrick Hughes (horn), Peter Bay (conducting), and Dan Welcher (composition).  Former teachers include Gerhardt Zimmermann (conducting), Donald Grantham (composition), and Yevginey Sharlat (composition).

Aside from his interest in music, Jacob enjoys hiking, camping, wandering around Austin, umpiring baseball games, and eating tacos. Jacob resides in Austin with no wife, kids, or cats.

James Zabawa-Martinez, violin




Jillian Johnson, violin

Jillian Johnson, 18, is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin as a Violin Performance Major studying with Professor Brian Lewis. She began studies in violin with Shakeh Ghoukasian at Nevada School of the Arts at age 13. She started high school at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, and later attended the Interlochen Arts Academy with scholarsh11755785_883145731731809_4796826587005666943_nip to study with Ara Sarkissian. She was awarded second place in the American Protege International Concerto Competition and performed in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in December 2015. Jillian has had the privilege of performing in master-classes for James Buswell, Stephen Shipps, Giora Schmidt, Oleh Krysa, Alexander Treger, the Fine Arts Quartet and many more. An avid chamber music player, Jillian studied chamber music with the NSA Honors Quartet and was awarded third place in the AADGT International “Passion of Music 2014” festival. They performed in the DiMenna Center of Music in New York as part of the winners recital. She has worked under the baton of JoAnn Falletta, Jung Ho Pak, Christopher Rountree, John Axelrod, Gerhardt Zimmermann, and others. As a scholarship recipient, Jillian has attended the Green Valley Chamber Music Festival, Tuacahn Summer Institute, the Interlochen Arts Camp, Center Stage Strings, and performed this past summer as part of the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial. In her spare time, Jillian enjoys playing with her pugs Mitzu and Kikko, cooking, and reading.

Karl Mitze, viola/Invoke String Quartet






Kimberly Zielnicki, violin

Kimberly is a local musician out of Round Rock, Texas, currently pursuing a degree in Music Education at the University of Texas at Austin. At 8 years old she began classical Suzuki violin lessons and started learning fiddle at 9. She grew up playing in orchestra while simultaneously performing gigs with various folk bands in the Austin area. She has been showcased at festivals such as the Kerrville Folk Festival, Folk Alliance International, Old Settlers Music Festival and SXSW.

When she is not in class, she enjoys attending string and fiddle camps focused in classical, fiddle, jazz and world music.

She currently studies with Professor William Fedkenheuer at UT Austin, while also taking classes and private lessons within the UT Jazz department, and performing in a UT Jazz Combo.

She most enjoys teaching the joy of fiddle music to other students, and it is her goal to someday have a studio of fiddlers that can creatively learn and grow together as a group.

Luna Chu, violin

20161029-Teachers-11Chu Chu has started playing the violin at the age of 4. In 2009, she went to the central conservatory of music, which is the top music school in China. During her college year, she played in many major symphony orchestras in China. In 2011, she was accepted by Asian Youth Orchestra and gave performances through the Asian countries including Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, etc.  She also played in EOS Orchestra, China NCPA Orchestra.  With China NCPA Orchestra, she has performed in many Countries including Korea, Australia etc.

When she was senior, Chu started working at Xi’An Symphony Orchestra and was appointed as the acting concert master. While she served in the orchestra,  Chu was also active in solo and chamber field.She played Spring from Vivaldi violin concerto Four Seasons, Sheonberg string sextet Verklart Nacht in Xi’An music hall.
She graduated in 2013 and by the time she left Xi’An symphony Orchestra and joined in Chihiro piano quintet and served as the first violinist. With the quintet Chu toured through out China and was really popular. In 2014, the quintet played with pianist Richard Clayderman in the Great Hall of People in Beijing and enjoyed great popularity.
Chu Chu is now pursuing her Doctor degree at University of Texas at Austin and she is now studying under violinist Sandy Yamamoto.

Madalyn Marabella, violin

Violin Graduation

Madalyn has lived in Austin, Texas all her life and has played violin since she was seven years old. She is currently a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin where she studies Spanish and Business. During middle school and high school, she played in her school orchestras and participated in Solo and Ensemble, TSSEC, and All-Region Orchestra. She also composed three original pieces for her high school orchestra, which she conducted at their spring concert. In 9th grade, she helped found a music group that played weekly at assisted living homes. Madalyn attended string project in elementary school and is very excited to be back



Ray Kim, cello




A native of South Korea, Kim was the 1st prize winner in the Korean Music Concours and 3rd prize winner in the Pho-Ne Classic Competition. He was also the winner of the Eastman School of Music Cello Competition, the Cleveland Institute of Music Competition, and the Cobb Symphony Young Artist Competition. At the age of fifteen, he was invited to play with the Seoul Royal Symphony Orchestra at the Young-San Art Hall. He holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Eastman School of Music. Festival appearances include Banff, Colorado College, Caroga, Pacific, and Festival Mozaic.

Rebecca Lester, violin & violin

Rebecca Lester, originally from Torrance, CA, earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from Azusa Pacific University, studying with Jonathan Moers
chel of the Calder Quartet. She is in the first year of her Master’s degree in Viola Performance at UT Austin, and is studying with Roger Myers.

Rebecca taught in the greater LA area for over three years, before recently movi
ng to Texas. Rebecca has completed the training for Suzuki books 1-3 in violin. She took book 1 with Sherry Cadow at the Los Angeles Suzuki Institute, and books 2 and 3 with Charles Krigbaum at DFW WOW. She believes strongly in creating a positive and productive teaching environment that also challenges the student to their best potential.

Rebecca is passionate about performing as well as teaching. She started playing the viola at age eight and studied privately with teacher Michele Nardone through high school.  From 2009-2013, Rebecca was a co-principal violist in the Palos Verdes Regional Symphony Orchestra. From 2013-2017 Rebecca was a section violist of the Azusa Pacific University Symphony, serving as principal violist for the last school year. Rebecca’s performance credits include appearances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Zipper Hall at The Colburn School, The Egg Performing Arts Center in Albany, NY, and more. Rebecca also attended the Next Festival of Emerging Artists in 2015 and 2016, and in 2016 she went to the Montecito International Music Festival where she studied with Roger Myers.

Rhys Gates, bass


Ruben Balboa, viola & violin

Ruben Balboa III, violist, is an active chamber musician, recitalist, and educator in the Austin area.  In 2017, Balboa made his Bass Hall solo debut at the Festival of the Orchestras hosted by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and participated in the Montecito International Music Festival.

Balboa has recently performed with the Dallas Opera, Las Colinas Symphony, Round Rock Symphony, Mid-Texas Symphony, San Angelo Symphony and has performed and recorded with artists such as The Antiques, Andres Cardenas, Josh Groban, Lena Hall, Eugene Rousseau, Yizhak Schotten, Brooke Waggoner, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  While studying for his masters degree, he performed with the Bancroft String Quartet, an elite graduate ensemble at the University of North Texas, where they placed as a semi-finalist in the Plowman Chamber Music Competition and Festival.   Other past achievements include: Texas State Concerto Competition winner and performing as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra.

As an educator, Balboa is frequently hired as a guest clinician for string methods and orchestral techniques, is a member of both the American String Teachers Association and American Viola Society, and is a founding teacher for the Texas State String Project.

Balboa is currently a doctoral student at the University of Texas where he studies with Professor Roger Myers and has earned his Master of Music degree at the University of North Texas under the tutelage of Dr. Susan Dubois and Dr. George Papich, and his Bachelor of Music degree from Texas State University-San Marcos under Dr. Ames Asbell.

Russell Cannon, cello

Russell Cannon began playing cello at the age of ten and regularly appeared in TMEA All-Region ensembles, as well as the Texas Chamber Music Institute, while studying privately with Elizabeth Morrow. He is currently an undergraduate Music Studies major at UT, where he studies cello with Bion Tsang and performs with the UT University Orchestra and UT Lab Orchestra. Russell began teaching group lessons with UT String Project in 2015 and is a collegiate member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Russell is a lover of hip-hop and classical music as well as Tex-Mex food, and is an avid Longhorn football fan.


Sabrina Uriegas, violin


Sabrina Mari Uriegas is pursuing her Bachelor of Choral Studies degree at the University of Texas at Austin. She was born and raised in the neighboring city of Round Rock, TX. She began playing the violin at the age of four, studying under Dr. Laurie Scott, and started singing in eighth grade at her church parish. She now studies voice under the direction of Dr. Cynthia Morrow. Although she may not be concentrating in the violin, Sabrina still enjoys playing and hopes to continue to perform in an orchestra. Sabrina is happy to be a part of this amazing faculty and share her love for music with her students.

Sean Flynn, viola

Sean Flynn is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Viola Performance at the University of Texas – Austin under Professor Roger Myers. He previously earned a bachelor’s in Music Education at the University of Oregon while studying viola with Dr. Leslie Straka. His educational pursuits include working for the University of Oregon’s Summer Orchestra Camp as a coach and section leader, and assisting as a chamber music coach for the school’s Community Music Institute. While in Oregon, he performed in a number of professional performing groups, such as the Oregon Mozart Players, the OSU-Corvallis Symphony, and the Eugene Opera. Sean has performed in master classes for artists such as Patricia McCarty, Jessica Bodner of the Parker Quartet, and Csaba Erdelyi.

Seth Russell, cello

A native of Greenville, SC, Seth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance and a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with David Ying. He rece
ived a Master’s degree in Cello Performance from New England Conservatory where he studied with Paul Katz. In Fall 2017 he will begin the Doctorate of Musical Arts program in Cello Performance at University of Texas at Austin with Bion Tsang.

Seth has a broad range of teaching experience, with ages ranging from young students to adults, and experience levels ranging from beginners to doctorate students.  

 In 2015-2016 Seth was the Visiting Assistant Professor of Cello at University of Memphis’ Rudi E Scheidt School of Music.  At UM he performed and taught with the Ceruti Quartet and lead the cello studio.  Last summer he taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp with the Abbiocco Quartet through Interlochen’s Quartet Fellowship Program. During a tour of Taiwan in 2015 with the Oceanus Quartet, Seth taught and coached students in Puli, Taichung, and Taipei, Taiwan. 

Seth has taught privately in his hometown of Greenville, SC as well as in Boston, MA.  In Boston, he also taught at the EKS Music School in Quincy, MA and at MusiConnects in Roslindale, MA. 
His quartet at New England Conservatory, the Mercury String Quartet, was chosen for the pilot “QuartetUtopia” program, in which the quartet designed a grant funded project to teach chamber music to school children in Somerville, MA.  Their work with El Sistema Somerville involved private lessons, orchestra, and chamber coachings.


20161029-Teachers-41Shruthi Kattumenu, violin






Travis Johnson, guitar


Yvonne DavilaYvonne Davila, violin

Yvonne Davila is originally from Chicago, Illinois and began Suzuki violin at the age of five. She attended DePaul University and received her B.M. in Music Business and Violin Performance under Joseph Genualdi. During that time, she had the opportunity to substitute for the Chicago Civic Orchestra. She received her M.M. in Violin Performance at UW-Madison under Vartan Manoogian. Yvonne has appeared as a soloist at the AIMS Music Festival in Solsona, Spain and at the Rural Musicians Forum in Spring Green, WI. While in WI, she was a member of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and a substitute with The Madison Symphony Orchestra. Yvonne has served as an Adjunct Instructor at Ripon College, conducted an elementary string orchestra in McFarland, Wisconsin and established Suzuki violin studios in both Madison and Spring Green. Yvonne is currently a doctoral candidate in Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin. She is a middle school Orchestra Director in Round Rock, TX and an experienced Suzuki method violin teacher. She teaches at The University of Texas at Austin String Project, which she has also served as Preschool Coordinator and Assistant Director. She is an active clinician and has presented her work at the Suzuki of the Americas Association, American String Teacher of America conferences, and Texas Music Educators Association. Her research focuses on children’s musical development, parental education, and children’s musical achievement.


Joanna Ross, cello


Sara Aldana, violin